World AIDS Day: Disability Group Calls for Accessible Sex Education
1 December 2011 at 10:31 am
As part of World AIDS Day, advocacy group, People with Disability Australia (PWD) has called for more appropriate and accessible sexual education for people with disability.
“In particular, we want to raise our ongoing concerns about the lack of appropriate and accessible sexual education for people with disability, many of whom are at increased risk of exposure to HIV infection,” says Bowden.
He says an estimated 21,391 people were living with HIV/AIDS in Australia in 2010, 1,043 diagnoses of HIV infection in that year alone. “PWD regards HIV/AIDS as an impairment that can lead to people experiencing disability, and as such PWD members include people living with HIV/AIDS.”
“It’s a little recognised fact that people with disability are at specific risk of HIV infection because of the way that HIV information is provided.
“There is a real lack of lack of sexuality, sexual health and sexual rights information targeted at people with disability, and health promotion messages are often inaccessible to people with disability.
“Myths about the sexualities and drug use of people with disability are also an issue which hinders messages on safe practices from getting through,” says Bowden.
“Coupled with these concerns around the education itself is the fact that many people with disability remain marginalised and segregated from the rest of the community, living in situations such as boarding houses, large institutions, or experiencing homelessness, which makes it difficult for them to access information or practice safer sex and safer drug use,” says Bowden.
PWD calls on all Australian governments, disability and health agencies to work towards the realisation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Australia ratified in 2008.
Article 25 of the Convention obliges Governments to ensure people with disability have the right to the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability, and to provide people with disability with access to sexual health programs and interventions with the aim of minimising and preventing further disability (i.e. HIV/AIDS). Article 21 requires Governments to impart information to people with disability on an equal basis with others through all forms of communication in accessible formats including accessible language and augmentative communication systems.
“PWD will continue to work towards eradicating the stigma, discrimination and marginalisation that people with HIV/AIDS continue to experience in Australia,” says Bowden.
Melbourne has been selected to be the host city for the International AIDS Conference in 2014.
Australia is providing at least $500,000 through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) to support conference streams dedicated to addressing HIV in developing countries and to assist countries in the region to participate in the conference.
If you would like the know more – head to Twitter, enter the hash tag #WorldAIDSDay and follow the tweets..